Tips for Archiving Computer Data to Optical Media Blu-ray Recordable Discs

I will produce a video about this one day. But here are a few pieces of advice to get started. I have been burning to the BD-R format since the year 2010 when a 50-pack spindle cost $180.00

  1. Media brand/type matters. My preferred discs are Verbatim or if you have deep pockets the M-Disc types such as these or these. BD-XL discs with up to 100 GB are also available but even more costly…obviously.
  2. Pioneer or OWC brands for the hardware. I don’t mess with anything else.
  3. Nero Burning ROM is the software I use. For Bluray (BDMV) authoring, I will make a disc image file and then burn using Nero.
  4. Although a standard single layer BD-R can use up to 25 GB of data, I try to burn less than 21 GB. Reason being is, the outer edge can pick up fingerprints very easily. If you don’t burn data in that area, it’s not an issue.

    For DVD-R burning, I will keep it under 3.8 GB for the same reason.
  5. Keep burn speeds low. For data I use the rated speed, which in my case is 6x. For Blu-ray movie burns, I will do 4x for myself or 2x for customers.
  6. Always use Nero’s data verification option. Sure, it takes more time but I’d rather know now that a disc was a coaster and not months or years from now.
  7. Perhaps the most important step…create and keep a word processor document that lists the contents of your disc archive. Back up that document frequently.
  8. Another good idea is to take screenshots of files/folders. This does take longer than simply typing a list but thumbnails can help out a lot when trying to track a photo or video file down.
  9. Don’t use a marker or print on the disc label EXCEPT onto the inner circle. That’s why I prefer inkjet hub printable discs.
  10. Just because I am archiving to optical discs that doesn’t mean I erase the data from hard drives. I always keep two copies of critical data. So, home videos and expensive video shoots…things like that. Consider storing one copy off-site…be it online or at a family member’s house.

Finally, large capacity solid state media is becoming a possible long term archival reality for people with modest budgets. My 2005 SanDisk flash drive is still going strong. Slower write speed 256 GB thumb drives can be purchased for under $35. For the time being though, a BD-R disc at around $.70 per 21 GB is the most affordable option. I’d estimate the shelf life to be approximately 15-20 years but maybe longer.

Author: Adam

Adam is a professional photographer, videographer and audio engineer. He started Real Home Recording back in 2011 and in 2017 launched Don't Go to Recording School.